Archive for the ‘language’ Category

language and meaning

28/08/2009

“…meaning is not ‘in’ language; rather, language is like recipe for constructing meaning, a recipe which relies on a lot of independent cognitive activity.” (John I. Saeed: Semantics p.319)

Controlled language and translation

28/07/2009

Not long time ago Tedopres International BV, a provider of technical documentation services with headquarters in the Netherlands, has launched its Controlled Language website for English (also known as simplified English). The main objective of a controlled language is to make technical text easy to understand. The basic principles of controlled language are a controlled vocabulary and a set of grammatical rules.

Links:

http://www.controlledenglish.com

http://www.simplifiedenglish.net

controlled english

It’s so irritating when automatic translation or alignment of a sentence fails because of formatting issues or grammatical/ terminological inconsistencies. An inappropriate use of a term, the use of the passive instead of the active voice etc. can result in a lower match within our translation memory and the translation itself will cost more in the long run since everything less than a 100% match needs to be translated by a human translator. Not to speak about the possibility of misunderstanding caused by terminological inconsistencies and unclear sentence structure.

And also some words about Statistical Machine Translation (SMT). One of the reasons SMT doesn’t work properly and still can’t pass the ‘Turing test’ for machine translation (if something like this exists at all) is because it can only give good translations for segments previously fed into the system. So even if you’ve got the biggest Translation Memory (TM) with all translated segments ever made in human history, you won’t succeed in translating everything because there will always be NEW sentences, phrases, terms, named entities and words which have never been written and/or translated before. You might get a 95, 90 or 80 % match but not a 100% match, which means: human post-editing required.

One of the ways of optimizing MT & TMS is using a controlled language. According to an article of Uwe Muegge (Controlled language: the next big thing in translation?) the reason why many (even bigger) companies still do not make use of available translation technology is because they don’t understand how translation tools work. I go even further, they don’t understand that in order to be able to recycle you language material, new texts need to be RECYCLABLE!

In order to make this clear, translation agencies should explain their clients the benefits of using controlled language for translation. In order to be able to make optimal use of the advantages of the different translation solutions translation agencies are heavily investing in, it is necessary to make the most of the available language data and control the language already on the level of the source text.

There are various tools for implementing controlled language (even Tedopres offers one) but I think companies could start with using and organize their company-specific terminology systematically. Investing in controlled language you will save on translation costs in the long run.

The next challenge is of course to create a controlled language for other languages than English, German and other common ones. And also, controlled language should sound natural and appealing to people.

On the site of Jeffrey Allen your can find some interesting articles on the role of Controlled Language in (Machine) Translation.

Sustainability in the translation industry

18/04/2009

The key concept of the 21st century is sustainability (in French: durabilité, in Dutch: duurzaamheid and in Spanish: sostenibilidad). Not only the ecosystems, the agriculture, the technology or the architecture need to become sustainable in our age but also the translation industry.

Why? Because it saves money and energy. The translation industry is one of those necessary evils: how much easier and cheaper life would be if everybody spoke the same language!? Back to the Tower of Babel! But since we don’t speak the same language and English hasn’t become the lingua franca yet, translations are unavoidable… and expensive.

 translation-management-system

What is the solution? To attain sustainability in the translation industry, translation agencies need to start/continue implementing and exploiting Translation Management Systems. Through different work-flows, TM Systems automate the whole translation process from the moment a text arrives at the agency until the translation is delivered to the client.

Using TM systems, translation agencies can save time (sentences which were translated earlier and which are already stored in the translation memory, can be re-used in the automatic or semi-automatic translation of new texts). For the same reason, using such systems also saves money and since the terminology of the client is used consistently thanks to the Terminology module, it also results in translations of a better quality.

An ideal TM System is web-based, multi-user, with integrated import/ export possibilities, easy-to-use, contains a Translation Memory- and a Terminology module, flexible, has a rich user hierarchy, supports different standard formats etc. Such systems are usually very expensive. To begin with, you need to buy the licences, have it installed on you server and shape the system according to your needs. The initial costs can be over the 10.000 euro. Then the system needs to be regularly updated and upgraded. You can count on an extra 100 euro or more on a monthly basis for keeping your TM system “alive”. A much cheaper solution is using GlobalSight (an open source software) offered by ExacTerm as Software as a Service on www.exacterm.com. More on this another time.

Briefly, sustainability in the translation industry can only be reached, using a TM system.

ARE YOU READY TO TAKE UP THE CHALLENGE… and enter the next level in your translation business??!!

Swansea, march 2004

08/04/2009

Once upon a time, there was a conference in Swansea (Wales), with the same title as this blog. Organized by Pius ten Hacken (Swansea) and Willy Martin (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam), this two-day conference opened up new perspectives for the interdisciplinary science of Terminology.

Swansea

According to a description of the workshop (to be found on the Swansea University website):

“The topic of terminology has been approached traditionally from the perspective of standardization. More recently, corpus-based approaches have gained prominence. A question which is relevant to both approaches concerns the relationship of terminology to a theory of the lexicon.

In this conference, these perspectives were considered not only theoretically, but also from a practical angle. The study and management of terminology is an essential component of commercial, technical, and scientific translation. Computational tools provide an almost indispensible help to any translator, whether working in an institutional translation service, an independent translation company, or as a free-lance translator.”

A couple of weeks ago sitting in my favourite armchair, sipping a nice cup of coffee, I decided that the spirit and innovation of this conference had to be continued. So here it is a new blog dedicated to

Terminology, Computing and Translation.

Enjoy your reading and don’t hesitate to react.